Women and Work

Statistics New Zealand today released a report Women at work: 1991–2013 using census data from the 20 years to 2013 to look at trends in occupational segregation between women and men. 

It shows significant gaps in the types of jobs that men and women do still exist with two thirds of occupations dominated by one sex. However this difference is shrinking and positions in which women were previously underrepresented such as management have seen growing numbers where they have almost achieved parity.

In general it found women are more likely to be represented in:

  • ‘caring professions’ (eg nursing, teaching, and social work);
  • clerical, administrative, and sales occupations; and
  • lower-skilled service work (eg personal care and hospitality work).

But less likely to be represented in:

  • higher managerial positions in some areas (eg private sector)
  • technical professions (eg architecture, engineering, and information technology)
  • farming – both crop and livestock production
  • protective services (eg the armed forces, police, and fire services)
  • manual trades and technician occupations
  • lower-skilled manual jobs (eg labouring and machine operating)

This has implications for how we manage the transition to the future of work as some of these occupations face a much higher risk of job loss from automation than others and education will need to be tailored to meet these groups’ needs.

It also has impacts on the income women receive with the report finding the median income in male-dominated occupations was $3,600 higher than in female dominated occupations in 2013. Women also made up 71% of the workforce in the five lowest paying occupations.

How do we ensure that women do not face the brunt of the impact of increased flexibility and get their fair share of its benefits?

What initiatives can be implemented to ensure women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value (across the public and private sectors)?

Read more about issues like this in the Security issues paper.

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